As adults, we all know death is inevitable. The death of someone we love is one of life’s most grievous occurrences, no matter what the circumstances. However, when a life is cut short because of someone’s negligence, the loss is even more devastating.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a claim in tort against an entity or person who can be held liable for a death. The claim is brought in a civil action.
Most common types of wrongful death cases include:
- Car accidents
- Construction accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Defective products
- Slip and fall accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home neglect and abuse
- Prescription errors
- Reckless or drunk driving
- Work-related accidents
- Exposure to hazardous conditions or toxic materials
- Criminal acts
- Aviation accidents
- Negligent security
- Death during a supervised activity (at schools, public swimming pools, sports events, nursing homes, etc.)
Your Legal Rights
Who Can Bring Forth a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New York?
When your loved ones die unexpectedly in New York due to the negligent actions of another, filing a wrongful death lawsuit is the best route to seek answers. According to New York statutes, the following people are legally eligible to file a wrongful death claim:
- The spouse of the decedent
- The children of the decedent
- The parents of the decedent
- The personal representative of decedent’s estate
This does not mean siblings and extended family are not eligible to file a wrongful death claim. They are eligible to bring forth a claim in some cases. This is possible when any of the siblings are named as a personal representative or guardian of the estate. However, in some cases, no other person has a right to file a claim, if there is a surviving child, spouse or parent of the decedent.
What Must You Prove to Bring Forth a Wrongful Death Claim?
In New York, you must prove the following to bring forth a wrongful death claim:
- Negligence or wrongful action toward decedent is eligible for compensation, including pain and suffering if death did not happen
- Monetary damages incurred due to the death of the decedent
- There are surviving children, dependents, and beneficiaries
Wrongful Death Suits in Conjunction with Pain and Suffering Claims
Wrongful death claims in New York are typically filed alongside claims for pain and suffering of the decedent before their unfortunate death. The person filing a wrongful death lawsuit may claim pain and suffering of their loved one before they died.
New York is one of the states that allow this claim. Pain and suffering claims will be attached to the decedent’s estate and brought forth by the personal representative of the decedent’s beneficiaries until a settlement is reached.
If the decedent had any family members who were their dependents, they can also file a wrongful death claim in New York. The claim highlights loss of companionship, lost earnings, and any relevant losses associated with their death. This claim differs from the prior lawsuit which is in regard to the damages toward the decedent, whereas the latter is in reference to damages to the family members.
The surviving dependents who were surviving on the assistance of the decedent are eligible to receive benefits under these claims and shares of the estate. Most of the time, both claims will be filed together with the same presiding attorneys representing both sides.
New York (NY) wrongful death statutes allow dependents and beneficiaries (i.e. spouse, children, other close relatives) to sue the negligent party responsible for the death. A lawsuit may seek economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include compensation for medical, nursing and funeral expenses, and loss of future income or support.
Non-economic damages are twofold. While the dependents themselves cannot recover for their pain and suffering, the lawsuit may seek:
- Damages for personal injury to the loved one, called “survival actions,” (actions survive the decedent.) In a survival action, you may seek compensation for the pain and suffering the deceased experienced before dying. The degree of consciousness, the severity of pain, and apprehension of impending death, along with the duration of such suffering are the factors weighed in determining a damage award.
- Other non-economic damages are loss of love, companionship, comfort, affection, society, solace, moral support, protection, advice, and training.
Children who have lost one or both parents are usually awarded substantial sums in wrongful death suits.
Why is it important to take action with in a specified time?
When a family member dies, legal remedies are not foremost on your mind. Nonetheless, if you wish to hold liable parties accountable, it is crucial to immediately document and preserve evidence, obtain witness statements and consult a lawyer to protect your rights.
If your attorney determines you have grounds for a lawsuit, it will have to be filed within the time frame set by the New York statute of limitations, which sets a time limit to file a claim. In a wrongful death case, the statute of limitations generally begins at the time of death. If your case is not filed within the specified time frame, you will forever lose your rights to recovery. Consulting a personal injury lawyer at the outset, not only allows for early preparation of the case, but also improves your chances for fair compensation.
Our Legal Services
At the Long Island law firm of Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP, our attorneys focus our practice entirely on the plaintiff’s personal injury and wrongful death cases. We offer legal services for individuals and families throughout Suffolk County. With more than 80 years of combined experience, our firm has built a notable record of successful verdicts and settlements for our clients.
Can I Afford an Attorney?
Yes. You can afford the best legal help available because our attorneys take wrongful death claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay no legal fees unless we obtain compensation for your damages. At the time of recovery, fees are deducted from the final award.
Contact Rosenberg & Gluck Today
If a loved one has died because of the negligent or reckless act of another, contact our offices at (631) 451-7900 to schedule a no cost, no obligation consultation.